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July 28, 2008

UPDATE: Obama’s Prayer Returned To Wailing Wall

 The yeshiva student who pried Barack Obama’s prayer note from the Western Wall has apologized.

Identified only by the first initial of his name, Aleph, and with his face obscured, the student went on television on Sunday to confess that he took Senator Obama’s note last week and passed it to the press.

The resulting coverage of Obama’s private, handwritten musings on hope and sin added to the mystique of his campaign visit to Israel but drew international criticism, including from leading rabbis who said Jewish morality had been compromised by the publication.

Obama has not commented on the incident.


July 23, 2008

Wednesday: Israel and Palestine — Obama’s Very Difficult Balancing Act

 Senator Obama’s schedule of meetings today in Israel and Palestine speaks volumes about the difficulty he and all American leaders finds themselves in when it comes to being fair and unbiased with the two countries.

After breakfast with the former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak, a tough and unyielding defense minister, Senator Obama went on to meet another strong contender for the premiership – the Likud leader, Benjamin Netanyahu. After that he paid a visit to Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, followed by a meeting with the Israeli President, Shimon Peres.

  His afternoon schedule calls for a helicopter tour of the “border” between Israel and the West Bank, the tour ended in Sderot. Sderot is a city in the western Negev, South District of Israel less than one mile from Gaza; it has a population of approximately 23,000 and has been an ongoing target of Qassam rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip so many Israelis have abandoned their homes there.

In between those two meetings Obama met the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, in his office in the Muqata in Ramallah.

Of Obama’s 36 hour visit to the Israel/Palestine region, he spent approximately 45 minutes talking to Palestinian spokespersons — this shows how much Obama is concerned about his relationship with Israel.

(During McCain’s last visit to the region he did not visit Palestine — he telephoned President Abbas from Jerusalem)

Mr. Obama did extend an olive branch to Palestine when he crossed into Gaza, a land officially designated by Israel as a hostile entity.

Obama gave his only press conference of the day from Sderot, not Gaza City.

This to me, is probably the most difficult part of Obama’s foreign trip, not because of physical safety, but because he has to speak to three different audiences (Israelis, Palestinians and Jews in the US) and try to make all three audiences happy at the same time – an insurmountable task at best!


Wednesday AM: Obama in Israel – Greeted Amazingly Warm By President Shimon Peres

Obama arrived in Israel Tuesday night from Jordan.  He is scheduled to meet with officials from both Israel and Palestine on Wednesday.  He will be in the middle of a diplomatic cross fire since agreeing with either Israel or Palestine will make the other country extremely disgruntled.  

 He met with Israeli President Shimon Peres and received an amazingly warm welcome from Peres, who said his greatest wish is for a “great president of the United States. That is the greatest promise for us and the rest of the world.”

 Senator Barack Obama toured Israel’s Holocaust memorial Wednesday, laying a wreath in memory of the 6 million Jews who died and saying, “Ultimately, this is a place of hope.”

Obama toured the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial on a Jerusalem hillside as he moved through a busy day of meetings with Israeli and Palestinian officials, including Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

At the Holocaust memorial, Obama wore a white skullcap as he laid a wreath in memory of the victims of the Nazis. Later, he said: “I am always taken back to sort of the core question of humanity that the Holocaust raises. That is, on the one hand, man’s great capacity for evil, and on the other hand, our ability to stop evil.”


July 18, 2008

Security Fears As Obama Travels To The Middle East And Europe

  Obama 's planned trip to Israel and the West Bank has raised security concerns to levels not seen since the Illinois senator began his presidential bid.

Coming just weeks after shots were fired at Israel's Tel Aviv airport during a farewell ceremony for France's Sarkozy, from an apparent suicide of a security guard, Obama's trek to the region has become a serious logistical and safety challenge.

"I would prefer if he did not make the trip to Ramallah," a concerned government official explained Thursday night from Washington. "And he must use extreme caution throughout Israel at this time, in my opinion, especially Jerusalem."

A planned foot tour of Jerusalem's Old City has been called off, a senior source reveals.

Senator Obama's exact itinerary is not being made public but campaign officials have announced stops in Jordan, Israel, Germany, France and England.

June 21, 2008

Bloomberg to Jews: Obama Is Not A Muslim; Don’t Believe The Lies

  New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is urging Jewish voters to condemn the online rumor that Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is secretly a Muslim with a hidden agenda.

Bloomberg was speaking to members of a Jewish group in Boca Raton, Florida on Friday, June 20.

The mayor says the rumor campaign is “cloaked in concern for Israel” but threatens to undo the strides that Jews and Muslims have made together.

Obama is Christian but has noted that some of the rumors about him have also been insulting to Muslims.

Political independent Bloomberg has not endorsed anyone yet in the presidential race. His defense of Obama could help the Illinois senator in Florida, which is home to many Jewish voters.

As mayor of New York City, Bloomberg declines to receive a city salary, accepting compensation of $1.00 annually for his services. He maintains a public listing in the New York City phone directory, residing not in Gracie Mansion, the official mayor’s mansion, but instead at his own home in Manhattan, he also takes the subway to work most days.

Bloomberg was born to a Jewish family of Russian and Polish descent and was raised in Brookline, Massachusetts.  Bloomberg is among the world’s richest people with a net worth estimated at $11.5 BILLION.


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